Betsy takes to the skies for her CHUMS

Betsy Banks pictured with her brother Stanley who was born after Sid died
Betsy Banks pictured with her brother Stanley who was born after Sid died

Six years ago, our sister paper the Luton News covered the story of 13-year-old Betsy Banks.

Her much loved, much younger baby brother Sid had died two years previously from a streptococcal infection and she was still struggling to get over his loss.

She said: “Just mentioning his name made me really upset.

“I couldn’t talk to my Mum and things became too much at school. I didn’t know how to cope with my sadness.”

Her teacher at Bedford Girls School suggested the family contact CHUMS, the mental health and emotional wellbeing service for children and young people.

It was a move that would change Betsy’s life.

She explains: “I thought I was the only one who’d been through such a loss. But CHUMS made me realise that I was not alone and that many other people suffer bereavements.

“They taught me ways to cope and communicate and how to release my emotions, because I’d become quite closed off and angry.

“They taught me never to forget but to learn to live.

“I believe it was their support that allowed me and my family to grieve in the right way and not to be bitter about how cruel life can be.

“They’ve allowed me to remember my brother every day, not just to block him out, and I love that I can do that. It’s something for which I’ll always be grateful.”

Since then, Betsy has worked as an intern at CHUMS and raised money for the charity in a variety of ways, including through bake sales and sponsored walks.

Now she’s decided to do something completely different – a skydive on Sunday, May 20, at Hinton airfield in Northampton.

The bubbly 19-year-old giggles: “I wanted to do something completely crazy.

“Now the closer it gets, the more nervous I become. I’m not scared of flying, but I do get jelly legs with height.”

But she’s so passionate about helping the charity that’s given her and her family such constant support that she’s determined to carry on fundraising.

And next year she may even do a sponsored silence, although she jokes: “For me, that really would be almost impossible.”

Betsy says: “I feel good being able to give something back. It’s such a special charity, which I’ve experienced first-hand.

“I used it again earlier this year when things got a bit tough and I wasn’t mentally robust enough to deal with it on my own.

“I’d seen a doctor and been given pills and a helpline number but I felt I needed more than that.

“I saw a CHUMS counsellor who taught me how important it is to help yourself, as you are the only one who can change the way you feel or do things.

“I honestly feel that without CHUMS I would not have come through and been the person I am today.

“They’re truly unique and the fact they offer such a wide range of services make them even more special.”

 If you’d like to sponsor Betsy, visit https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/betsy-banks